Mauss leaves psychedelics behind for Youngstown gig

YOUNGSTOWN — Comedian Shane Mauss will make the trip to Youngstown tonight, but it won’t be “A Good Trip.”

“A Good Trip” is his one-man show that focuses on psychedelics (mushrooms, LSD, etc.). It’s a recurring topic on his science-centered podcast “Here We Are” and the subject of the documentary he stars in, “Psychonautics: A Comic’s Exploration of Psychedelics,” which won the audience award for best documentary last month at the Dances with Films festival in Los Angeles.

“It will just be my regular standup show, no psychedelic material unfortunately,” Mauss said Monday during a telephone interview. “I don’t just drop my psychedelic show on unsuspecting audiences. Not everyone is going to be into it.”

The Wisconsin native was named best standup comedian at the HBO US Comedy Arts Festival in 2007, which led to five appearances on “Conan” and spots on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Showtime and Comedy Central.

“When I started, I crafted these good late-night friendly sets that worked really well in five minutes,” he said. “I caught my breaks, got to be on on TV and see my dream come true. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish.”

But he said he was still “too young and too poor to retire,” so he started to incorporate his interest in science into his act.

“It was not a smooth transition,” he said. “I lost some work and put out some work that was not my best. I had to relearn how to do comedy again. That was the real retooling and relearning phase of my career, but I came out on the other side of it much happier.”

He also was ahead of the curve in building a pro-psychedelics show. His first “A Good Trip” performance was nearly two years ago. Now best-selling author Michael Pollan, known for such works as “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” is writing about “How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression and Transcendence,” and publications like New York magazine are doing long features on the benefits of microdosing (using small doses of psychedelics to improve creativity and productivity, reduce anxiety and heighten awareness).

Mauss said he enjoys the freedom of being able to switch between “A Good Trip” and a more loosely structured standup set. Both are satisfying, but he appreciates the craft required in creating something like “Trip.”

“It’s not that hard to come up with a one-liner, but to make a joke fit within a theme that relates to everything else you’re talking about, that’s a little more challenging,” he said.

And Mauss prefers challenging to the wild party attitude he had starting out.

“You have some people who’ve never been to see standup before who come to a show and want to hear whatever it is that every comic’s been saying for the last 30 years. Some of them I will lose with more cerebral content. Anything that’s a little more unique, more thoughtful, cerebral, that’s the audience I want to build for myself.”